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Westminster Wedding Tiara Predictions – What Jewelry Experts Hope Olivia Henson Wears – Town & Country

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Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, who is one of Britain’s wealthiest men, will marry Olivia Henson at Chester Cathedral in northern England this Friday, June 7.

Hugh, previously one of England’s most eligible bachelors, is also godson of King Charles and is believed to be a godfather to both Prince George, 10, and Prince Archie, 5. In some circles the question of which royal brother would attend the wedding of their good friend reigned supreme (it will be Prince William; Prince Harry declined the invite). In jewelry circles, however, this wedding—as close to royal as a non-royal wedding can get—inspired another line of inquiry: which of the impressive Westminster family tiaras will the bride wear at her wedding?

Princess Mary’s Fringe tiara and the Myrtle Wreath tiara are available and would be beautiful choices. They both have a modernity to them that would, admittedly, appeal to a bride like Olivia Henson. But jewelry experts are hoping another tiara makes an appearance, one that has not been seen publicly since 1978, one with stones rarer than diamonds, with an Imperial Russian provenance, and, even, a connection to Queen Elizabeth.

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Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, and Natalia Phillips, in the Bagration Tiara, on their wedding day.

The Bagration Spinel tiara was made in the early 1800s for Catherine Bagration, the rebel princess of the Bagration dynasty, rulers of Georgia. It went up for auction in May 1977 and Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, bought it for his bride Natalia, a descendant of Tsar Nicholas and Alexander Pushkin, as an engagement present. She wore it to their wedding in 1978. It is a statement tiara in every way with a strong connection to the Westminster family narrative, and a definitively regal shape. The stones, however, are what would catch a jewelry experts eye.

Spinels are a connoisseur’s stone. “The allure of spinel goes back to ancient times,” says Sotheby’s jewelry guru Frank Everett. “Red spinel is seen frequently in antique royal jewels and is often mistaken for ruby. Spinel is truly an #IYKYK gem of sorts, and the market grows increasingly strong for high-quality examples. While the colors of spinel can sometimes be confused with other gemstones, there is no mistaking its unique clarity and crispness of crystal. The finest examples are rare, sought after, and expensive.”

the imperial state crown, due to be worn

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The Imperial State Crown.

That large red stone at the center of the Imperial State Crown has been there from the time the crown was re-imagined for Queen Victoria in 1838 (the crown has gone through several reincarnations since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660). It is known as the Black Prince’s Ruby but is, in fact, a 170-carat red spinel. Will Henson pay a subtle tribute to the Queen—and her father-in-law—and wear this stone? Spinels comes in many shades, from red to purple to black and yellow. The spinels in the Bagration tiara are pink and set in diamonds. In addition to all this they are said to encourage passion and devotion. So I’d like to officially encourage the bride to make every jewelry nerd’s day and wear spinels on Friday. Think of the passion and devotion aspects. Think of the Queen!

Author and jewelry historian Vincent Meylan, whose books delve into the secret archives of Bulgari, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Christie’s, and more, has an even more interesting proposal: “The spinel,” he says, “would be my personal choice. I love a bride with a colored tiara but it is a rather daring choice. Brides are much more classical today than they were in the 1970s. The real treat would be that the duke chooses to imitate his father’s gesture in 1978 and buy a special tiara to offer his wife.”


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Editor-in-Chief Stellene Volandes is a jewelry expert, and the author of Jeweler: Masters and Mavericks of Modern Design (Rizzoli).

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